Alexander: YES to 420 is running a positive, constructive campaign

This is my first political campaign. I am very surprised by the lack of agreed-upon truth. I don’t mean the typical campaign jousting from both sides about stolen signs or personal attacks.

Jason Alexander

I’m talking about positions so far apart, they can’t possibly both be true. For example: YES 420 states nothing will change with the management of the Preserve, while the No side claims it will remove control of the Preserve from the City Council.

YES 420 claims broad citizen support across the city, the NOs accuse us of being NIMBYs. YES 420 says a citizen-initiative is part of the democratic process, while Virginia Korte said on Oct. 18 to the Arizona Republic that its the erosion of our system of government.

In this relativistic context with two contrasting messages, you can learn a lot about the truth based on how the campaigns conduct themselves. YES 420 is running a very positive, fact-based campaign. The NO side is running a very negative campaign based on what-ifs and insinuations. Obviously I’m biased, but I think the campaign literature supports my summary.

Let’s start with the most obvious: the names. Protect Our Preserve has been an Arizona non-profit corporation for two and a half years. The NO campaign formed “Protect Your Preserve” at the end of August.

This is obviously designed to confuse, not champion their own unique message. YES 420’s signs were out in the community for several weeks, when the NO campaign introduced signs that were strikingly similar and again meant to confuse the issue.

Next, compare the two websites. YES 420’s Protectourpreservepac.com is full of pictures of neighbors and volunteers, and detailed fact-based position pieces that lean heavily on research, video records and citations. Thousands of neighbors are pictured, sporting the 1,100 yard signs we’ve distributed, the 4,500 car magnets, and the hundreds of T-shirts.

Our website highlights our community and our grassroots support. On the other hand, the No website is very negative. Its home page announces that YES 420 is fake news and censoring the truth. The No site contains mostly opinions from developers, or many principals and officers of Desert Discovery Center Scottsdale Inc. It contains little substantiation.

These same few opinion pieces are then repeated multiple times, cut and pasted across the site. The site’s pictures are not of neighbors or campaign rallies, but rather of corporate headshots. Finally the NO website goes through a list of community leaders including Councilman Phillips and former Mayor Mary Manross, disparaging them one-by-one with terms like hyperbole and bogeyman.

Emails from both campaigns are variations on their websites. YES 420 groups send emails that are mostly encouraging, full of pictures from campaign volunteers, and opportunities to get involved with grassroots activism. There are policy discussions, that go into detail with numbers and specific references. The NO campaign emails are short with minimal proof, and highly negative and accusatory. They include cautionary memes and tweets, but no pictures of volunteers or solutions to the core issue.

The campaign mailers from the NO side are also overwhelmingly negative. The first one was six pages of invectives and antagonism, including an entire page dedicated to attacking Solange Whitehead. The subsequent two direct mail pieces continued with the negative memes, pitting north and south Scottsdale against each other while continuing with the divisive NIMBY and anti-Scottsdale tropes. The YES campaign ads in print and TV have been just the opposite: positive, solution-based, showing the community coming together to support a common goal.

The Facebook pages conclude the story of positive vs negative campaigning. YES 420’s page at https://www.facebook.com/NoDDCAZ/ is full of pictures, calls to volunteer, encouragement and robust discussions of news articles from 3000 followers. The Administrators readily identify themselves, and provide detailed answers to questions.

The NO page has no photos of people, but is made up almost entirely of slanted headline-grabbing memes. The administrator is anonymous, and frequently argues and insults the readers, who are overwhelmingly YES supporters. You will find almost no fact-based discussions, just a lot of yay-boo shouting.

I encourage everyone to dive into both campaigns, and see for yourself. YES 420 is supported by thousands of residents across the city, who ask to keep development decisions over our land and our taxes in our hands. NO is supported by a small group of politicians and developers. I’m confident we will win your YES vote with our positive, community-focused campaign.

Editor’s note: Mr. Alexander is a resident of Scottsdale and co-founder of NoDDC

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